Number of suitable lambs 'tightening'


File photo
File photo
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

"Collateral damage" was the phrase used by one factory sheep agent yesterday after his factory was targeted and closed by protesting farmers.

Dawn Ballyhaunis and Kepak Athleague were unable to offer any quotes yesterday as their gates remain picketed.

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Despite this significant loss of processing capacity, quotes for sheep from the other three major players on our price table remain unchanged.

The ICM plants continue on €4.50+10c/kg quality bonus for lambs, with Kildare Chilling also steady at €4.60+10QA.

It's the same with the cull ewe: the ICM plants stick on €2.50/kg, with Kildare Chilling also unchanged at €2.60+10c/kg QA.

Looking at the mart trade, there is a feeling that numbers of suitable lambs have tightened, with Jim Bushe of New Ross saying that despite his sale yesterday being very large, there was no fall-off in demand or price. "Trade was good with heavy lambs making up to €106 and factory lamb €90-100/hd," he said.

ICSA sheep chair Sean McNamara said that while there is a lot of lamb in the marts at present, factory prices remain steady at €4.70-€4.90/kg, with cull ewes €2.50-2.70/kg.

IFA sheep chair Sean Dennehy said factories are paying €4.70/kg for lambs with top prices of €4.80/4.90 including bonuses, with ewes on €2.70/kg.

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If anything, the cull ewe is coming under a bit more pressure than the lamb as cull supplies seem to be increasing.

One factory buyer told me this is due to those in the west not being able to get their ewes away due to the blockades and heading east in search of a markets.

The mart trade for breeding hoggets also seems to have hit a wall, with prices back by €10-15/hd in places.

Exports from Australia and New Zealand accounts for up to 70pc of all sheep meat traded globally.

Meat and Livestock Australia reported that supplies to its main markets the US, China and the Middle East were unable to keep pace with demand in 2018.

This demand surge, it said, is being led by China, where a growing middle class seek more sophisticated food products.

This demand is also being helped by younger Chinese consumers, who are prepared to try foreign food.

New Zealand recorded a surge in exports of sheep meat to China, where it remains the market leader - in the 12 months ending November 2018, China's sheep meat imports from New Zealand were up 33pc year-on-year, at a record 181,000 tonnes.

While Uruguay and Chile export some sheep meat to China, they remain minor players with limited growth prospects.

With the recent visit of Chinese officials to beef plants up and down this country I hope those guiding these tours took the time to point out the fact we are also a sheep meat exporting nation, with our sheep farmers and processors adhering to the same high standards as those on the beef side.

Turkey has reopened for live cattle exports from Ireland, which is a great boost, but did you know Turkey imported 209,000 sheep from Australia last year!


1 Ennis

Trade here was reported as improved, especially for ewe lambs.

Averages for the majority of lambs ranged from €90-100/hd, with the top call of €113/hd going to a batch weighing 56kg.

Cull ewes sold from €75-110/hd, while on the breeding side ewes with lambs at foot sold to €170/hd

2 Ballinrobe

A big sale, but with plenty of buyers anxious to get their turn, a full clearance was effected.

The store trade saw lambs average from €60-80/hd, while factory lamb made from €84-107/hd. Ewe lambs sold from €105-129/hd, with cast ewes making from €50-105/hd.

3 Headford

The story here was of lamb selling from €51-128/hd, €1.42-2.61/kg.

Looking at some samples, that top call of €128/hd was achieved by a batch of 49kg ewe lambs, while further back were 48kgs at €120/hd, 42.5kgs at €105 and 39kgs at €92/hd.

On the store side 35kgs made €79/hd. Other samples included 40kgs at €90/hd and 43kgs at €96/hd. Heavier 49-50kg groups made from €110-115/hd.

Ewe hoggets generally sold from €90-187/hd.

4 New Ross

Jim Bushe reported a very big turnout yesterday backed up by a trade that was steady to strong.

Heavy lambs sold from €100-106/hd, with factory lamb selling from €90-100/hd.

The ewe lamb trade saw 42kgs make up to €90/hd, with 35kgs making €82/hd. Lighter 28-30kg lambs sold for €58-61/hd.

Heavy cull ewes made from €100-136/hd, with lighter feeding ewes seeing new grass at €70-90/hd.

4 Kilkenny

Trade here yesterday was well maintained, with breeding hoggets performing very well.

Heavy lambs from 51-63kg sold from €100-106/hd, with 40-47kgs making from €79-97/hd.

On the store side 37kgs made €79/hd. Top call for breeding hoggets was €206/hd, with the general run coming in at €180-195/hd.

Cull ewes sold from €71-128/hd.

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